Ventura council takes issue with SOAR changes

The Ventura City Council learned of the changes to the Save Open Space and Agricultural Resources, also known as SOAR, initiative up for renewal this November, and not all of them were warmly met.

Dave Ward, planning manager from the Community Development Department, outlined several changes to the SOAR ordinance from the version initially passed in 1995 by Ventura voters, including several that he deemed “substantive.”

Of note: doubling the time required for a parcel of land to be unused for agricultural purposes from two to four years before development restrictions are lifted; exclusion of land from SOAR restrictions if the land is expressly used for low-income and very low-income affordable housing; and allowing for public and for-profit public access for biking, hiking and equestrian as well as allowing for “potable water facilities” but restricting “other city government facilities.”

Ward noted that these requirements, among others, are unlikely to be met or do not provide for the ability to plan for future needs.

City Councilman Carl Morehouse called the changes “sort of egregious things that we’re being asked to push out to 2050.”

“I would be very, very reluctant to adopt it tonight,” said Morehouse. “We can put it to the voters; I hope they would have their eyes wide open as to what they would be voting on because they’re going to be voting on errors that would be in perpetuity, or at least until 2050.”

City Councilwoman Christy Weir, however, said that “If there are issues, they are fixable issues as to the intent.”

Councilmembers had the option to adopt the proposed initiative ordinance without alteration, place the initiative measure on the ballot in November or refer the initiative to the city attorney and Community Development Department for a report on its effect on operations due within 30 days. The City Council voted and chose the latter, with only Councilman James Monahan voting no, and will reconvene again on the matter when the report is completed.

Moorpark College launches food share program

Moorpark College has announced a partnership with FOOD Share, Ventura County’s food bank, and Bags of Hope food pantry to provide students, employees and members of the community who may be in need of assistance.

The Moorpark College Food Share will operate every Thursday during the hours of 1-2:30 p.m. and 5-7:30 p.m. behind the Bookstore at 7075 Campus Road in Moorpark.

“I am particularly pleased to support this initiative as it allows the college to be of service to our students, colleagues and the community in a meaningful way,” said Moorpark College President Luis Sanchez. “Our commitment to student development and community outreach includes providing sustenance in the form of nutritious meals to students and anyone in need.”

“We want to get the word out to as many people as possible that there will be fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and bread to provide healthy meals on a regular basis,” said Sharon Manakas, coordinator of the Moorpark College Student Health Center.

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— Chris O’Neal